Local company wins Olympic contract 

Ecosign brings wealth of international experience to design of Whistler Nordic Centre

A local company with an international reputation will be planning and participating in the design of the Whistler Nordic Centre for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Tucked into a small Alpine Meadows office, Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners will dream up their vision for the heart of the Callaghan Valley where the cross-country skiing, ski jumping and the biathlon and Nordic combined competitions will take place.

Though it’s undoubtedly a huge responsibility, President Paul Mathews is ready for the challenge.

"In the (past) 30 years a local firm has grown up and gotten world-wide experience," said Mathews.

"The rewarding thing is that we worked our tail off to represent our community, (to) bring our world knowledge (and) experience to bear."

The binders neatly lining the bookcase behind Mathews tell Ecosign’s story. Their spines reveal the company’s world-wide experience – Canada West, Europe, China, Japan, South America, Russia.

Ecosign has worked in 25 countries, designing mountain resort communities, as well as facilities for competitive events such as the 2001 Alpine World Championships in St. Anton, Austria.

Now Mathews must take the best parts of each of those venues and create something special that works for the Callaghan Valley.

"I’ve just got to put that multiple vision onto the ground up there," he said.

Don’t doubt that it’s a challenge that’s been causing him some sleepless nights, despite his vast knowledge and experience.

The Whistler company is part of a larger team which is headed up by a Vancouver-based engineering company called Sandwell Engineering. The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympics announced Aug. 27 that the Sandwell team had been awarded the Nordic Centre contract.

In addition to Ecosign, CJP Architects, Paul Merrick Architects, Thornley BKG Consultants, Ward Consulting, and Keen Engineering are part of the consortium.

"We call Ecosign our master planners," said Peter Lutzmann, Sandwell’s project director.

"Where we have all the engineering talent to actually do the types of drawings that will go out to the construction contractors, we can’t actually start doing those drawings until Ecosign has finished putting together our master plan that shows where the different elements in the valley are going to be located – the roads, the day lodge, the jumps, the trails."

Ecosign has been charged with several tasks.

In creating the master plan for the Callaghan, the company must consider things such as access to the venues, parking and transporting approximately 20,000 to 30,000 spectators on any given day to the area for the 17 days of the Olympic competition.

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